“Emerging Theology” Is An Oxymoron

Comments on Jon Middendorf’s “Emerging Theology” M7 Conference Session Audio

by Sandy Simpson, 5/8/09


It is very important to start this article by pointing out that (1) the term “Emerging Theology” is oxymoronic and (2) a better term for what Middendorf is repeating from the teachings of Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Eddie Gibbs, Ryan Bolger and many other Emergents should have been called “Emerging Beliefs” or “Emerging Orthopraxy”. 


The reason the term “Emerging Theology” is an oxymoron is that true Biblical Theology is not “emerging” but continuing.  The true body of Christ is not making up new “theologies” to suit the times or postmodern thought.  Postmodernism has its origins in a Satanic worldview practiced by the devil himself.  In fact we need to reeducate people to think Biblically, objectively and to believe in objective truth.  The Church is to hold to the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostles and Prophets in the written Word of God (2 Thes. 2:15), which makes up true Theology.  We are not to add (Pr. 30:6), subtract (Rev. 22:18-19), go beyond (1 Cor. 4:6) or run ahead of the written Word (2 John 1:9).  But that is exactly what Emerging Church (EC) leaders are doing, including Middendorf.  Read my article on how the Emerging Church is teaching against some of the core doctrines of the Church and adding things that the Bible does not teach or promote.  Middendorf bought into the EC paradigm and recommends a number of their materials in this session. So right from the outset, beginning with the title of Middendorf’s M7 session, his teaching is unbiblical.


Synopsis:  There was no theology presented in this lecture, per se.  The overriding theme was that the EC wants to help Christians “find God in the world” and for them to “look like Jesus”.  Sounds good but what does that mean?  Does that mean going back to Roman Catholic liturgy and the Eucharist which Middendorf promotes?  Does it mean incorporating mystical and New Age practices into the churches?  Does that look like Jesus?  I think not. 


The tactic of any cultic groups is to isolate and indoctrinate.  Middendorf is using both those techniques to secure followers in the Nazarene denomination for the Emerging Church.  He uses isolation in two major ways.  He first isolates by not allowing true “conversation” even though that is the stated goal of the EC.  He does not want to listen to true criticism of the movement and subtly, and not so subtly, puts dissenters down by using terms like those with “ugly questions” and those who “carve and manipulate” people.  It is clear, from his teachings in this session and others, that he is not able to argue his case with clarity and in fact claims in this session “it feels funny to be the person up here trying to nail down then what we mean when we say emerging or emergent theology”.  Maybe because he never really defines any theology in this session and the EC has no real definitions on where they stand because that would necessarily alienate people.  He further isolates people by getting them involved in a close relationship with another EC church and the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), which is not even Biblical Christianity at all.  So all the people following the Middendorf model are put in close personal contact with others who are exchanging the same views over and over again while claiming they are having an open conversation.  But if dissent is not allowed then it can never be a true conversation but rather indoctrination.  This is what is interesting because while the EC advocates claim their movement is about orthopraxy it is really about repeating the same tired teachings of the EC over and over again until people accept the false ideas, which is classic brainwashing.  So while claiming to not have an emphasis on doctrine, it is just the opposite.  The emphasis is always on the false teachings of the movement restated, and when you try to change the belief system of people you are teaching doctrine, pure and simple, no matter what you call it.  No, they are not about Biblical doctrine; they are about repeating false doctrines endlessly.


2Pe 2:1  But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

1 Tim. 6: 3-5  If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.


Middendorf is not being a watchman for the sheep of the Nazarene denomination but is instead guiding false teachers and false doctrines into the Nazarene churches and making excuses for them while pretending it will do no harm.


Ga 2:4-5  This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.

ze 33:6  But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’


Following is the full transcript of the M7 session with commentary by Sandy Simpson.  The text that is indented and in italics is the transcript.  My comments are not indented and are in normal text.  Again, this transcript is from Jon Middendorf’s “Emerging Theology” M7 Conference Session Audio on “An Official Site of the Church Of The Nazarene”, http://www.m7conference.org/ResurrectionStories/tabid/181/Default.aspx


TRACK 1: Well, I’ve been in here to listen to Tim Condor and Tim Keil to do their thing and you’ll notice that they do all theirs off the top of their heads.  They’ve been doing this stuff for so long.  I haven’t.  So I’m still reading part of mine but I‘ll break away from it every once in awhile.  And this is my lovely assistant Mr. Karl Zock right here, thank you Karl.  And Karl has designed the look of all this today and here’s my hope, my hope is to kind of work through some of these issues such that we will have time at the end for cordial question and answer, how’s that?  All right.  We will not have time for any ugly question and answer I promise you that.  So if you have serious, serious problems you can address your emails to Dr. Jerry Porter (laughter).  Uh, this is actually a subject matter that we in the church of the Nazarene are a little bit late to, we are a little bit late to this discussion.  Now this has been going on for a while and again, just to be honest, we are a little bit late to this discussion,


If you don’t agree with this stuff then they are not late but should never have shown up.


In some sense we are late in that we are not yet recognized to be a part of the Emergent Village.  We are not yet recognized; we don’t have anybody yet in that circle,


Well, they certainly have individuals like Middendorf and organizations like Allelon, which is heavily involved with the Nazarene Universities, and others that are recognized.


running with the likes of Tim Keil and Tim Condor.  And yet we’re not late because I hear them discussion questions and I read them discussion questions that I have had for years.  And questions that I know some of you have had for years because we’ve been talking about it for years.


How can you have questions for years if you are late to the discussion?


So in that sense I’m not convinced that we are all that late.  We may be late in terms of the structure of the conversation but I don’t think we’re late in terms of the subject matter.  I tell you all of this because there is periodically within our tradition a little bit of hysteria that bubbles up when we start using these terms: emergent, emerging, emergent church, emerging conversation.  But emergent is not a denomination. 


No, but it is a multi-denominational movement infiltrating many denominations, missions and churches.


And it’s important that you recognize that this is not a denomination.  It is not a denomination that, as of yet, has any kind of static, stated system of belief. 


Why bother then?


So our discussion of emergent or emerging, and I’m gonna try to say emerging because emergent to me is the website, emergent village, I think it is just about a packaged product.  And I would rather use the term emerging.  It is not a denomination so we are free to be in conversation with them because it’s not as if we’re going to exchange our articles of faith for theirs.  Ok?  That doesn’t mean they don’t have some things to say to us, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have some things to critique where we’re concerned.


They may have critiques but why does the Nazarene denomination need their critiques and diaprax coming from the outside? 


But we can relax a little bit because it’s not as if they are going to come in and take us over and change us to be something that we don’t want to be


Middendorf is not a watchman for the Nazarenes but is a promoter of the EC.  People like him are changing the Nazarenes and making them into what they did not want to be before they got diapraxed and the brainwashing of the EC set in.


or change us into something we were not created to be, that we weren’t birthed to be


No one was created to be part of the false teachings of the EC.  “Birthed” is a New Apostolic Reformation” expression, as well as one used in the New Age.  No one was born to be a part of false teachings.


at the beginning of our movement.  Does that make sense to everybody?  There are critiques for sure, and you have to be honest about the critiques, but I think you’ll find that somewhere in the middle of this deal that this is a lot more about ecclesiology, methodology than it is about systematic theology.


Then why call this lecture “Emerging Theology”?  It is a misnomer by his own admission.


 Certainly it has some things to do with systematic theology and we’ll get to that stuff but I like the way it said at a conference not too long ago at the (Nazarene) seminary.  The seminary hosted a conference about this very subject and they called it “The Church for an Emerging Culture”.  I like that a lot.  The church for an emerging culture that maintains the dynamic nature of the conversation.  It is a conversation that is moving, right?  And it feels funny to be the person up here trying to nail down then what we mean when we say emerging or emergent theology.


Exactly what I said in the beginning. 


Because it’s kind of a moving target and it doesn’t wish to be nailed down


So “Emerging Theology” is now like, let’s say, a bird that is flying every which way that doesn’t want to land anywhere.  What does that have to do with Biblical theology?  Nothing.  In fact a belief system blown about by the wind is exactly what mature believers are to avoid (Eph. 4:14).


because it takes place within these several different traditions such that it won’t be nailed down.


How convenient.  They have set themselves up to be blown by the wind so they will never have to be specific about what they are teaching so as to fit in to any belief system.


TRACK 2: So far so good?  Doing all right?  All that said, because it is a dynamic always-moving conversation because it isn’t a stated, static group of static statements of faith


Notice the subtle putdown of statements of faith.


I do hesitate to make sweeping dogmatic statements for fear that I would inevitably leave out great chunks of people and in so doing violate what I observe to be one of the core hopes of this conversation.  So here’s what I’ll try to do today.  I will describe for you, as best I can, what I observe to be just some of, we won’t get to all of them, but some of hopes of this conversation and I will do so never claiming to be an expert but instead I will speak as a studier, as a reader of the voice of the leaders and pioneers of this conversation


But he admits he reads the books of the EC leadership.  Apparently their statements are good whereas statements of faith are static and stated.


and by the way I want you to turn over that resource slip for just a second


No mention of the Bible being a resource.


I think there are a couple ways to go about this and I think there are some folks, let me caution you, if you are going to swim in this lake, Lake Emergent, and you aren’t willing to read some of the theology books that were written as much as 50 years ago, then I think you’re going to have a hard time actually keeping up and actually swimming with the current.  You cannot read just the books that were written in the last 4 or five years and expect to be meaningful participants in the conversation. 


This means you cannot comment or understand the “conversation” without reading all their materials.  This is a way to hook people in by diaprax so that they will buy into it before they can voice their objections. 


You better be reading the likes of, on here, you’d better be reading the likes of John Howard Yoder and “The Politics of Jesus”.  Absolutely crucial book, in fact, I would say to you that that’s a “must read”.  I you want to be meaningfully involved in this conversation you need to read John Howard Yoder.  You need to read the stuff by Karl Bart, you need to read “Simply Christian” which is a good summary of the work of N.T. Wright.  You need to read “Christ and the Powers”, a little 60 page book by Hendrick Berkoff.  John Howard Yoder talks a lot about that, in other words, there is a lot of theology that you need to read to be able to get to the Emerging Conversation. 


Don’t bother reading your Bible for theology.  Getting people to read heretical books is one of the first ways people get deceived these days. 


And once you’ve at least digested some of that then you move on to stuff like”How Not to speak of God” by Peter Rollins.  “Emerging Chuches” by Eddy Gibbs and Ryan Bolger and all these other things, you can read that list there.  Please don’t try to jump into this conversation with reading a bunch of this stuff, and not just the old stuff but also the new stuff.  Your reading and your participation have to be connected.  If you don’t read and yet you try to participate or you try to critique it’s going to be hurtful and divisive.


So those who critique this movement are hurtful and divisive unless they read all the books they recommend?.


Right?  So at least if you are going to critique, critique having read some of this really good stuff.  So far so good?  All right.  So I’m going to speak to you as a studier today.  But I’m also going to speak to you as a believer, a participant in many of these same conversations and questions myself, and as a third generation Nazarene minister who has hopes of having us fully live into our message of hope and liberation and, by the way, a Nazarene minister with absolutely no exit strategy.  Imagine if I tried to go home for Thanksgiving having left the church of the Nazarene.  So I am a willing participant and I want to swim deeply (in Emerging Church), right, but I have no designs on Kaleo Community that church I’m pasturing down there, a congregation within a congregation, Oklahoma First Church, I have absolutely no desire for that congregation to not be a church of the Nazarene.


What he wants is the Nazarenes to be apostatized by EC from within while holding on to their name.


Promise.  I’ll sign something if you need me to.  All right.  I promise.


Promise what?  He has only said he will remain Nazarene but that he plans to “swim deeply” in the EC.  What kind of promise it that?  He is promising to be a false teacher swimming in a false movement yet remaining in the Nazarene. This would be akin to Alexander promising to continue to be in the church at Ephesus while doing harm to the ministry of Paul. 


Ok.  So to summarize today I will describe for you the hopes and the questions within the theology of what we and so many others have come to call the “Emerging Generation” or I would say the ”Emerging Conversation”. 


Could we have any more titles for this movement?  And what do hopes and questions have to do with theology, unless they have no theology?


And I have read a lot and listened a lot and talked a lot but what I got to really say to you today comes from four sources: this book right here “Emerging Church” by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, which after you have read some of that systematic theology stuff I think this is actually the best summary statement, the best description that I’ve seen yet on Emerging Church and Emerging churches.  Ok?  Turn your page over one more time.  Down there at the bottom, Gibbs and Bolger give us 9 descriptors of emerging congregations.  And I’m not going to go through all of those but I thought it was important information that’s straight out of the Gibbs & Bolger book.  So that’s just there for your consumption. 


Here are the 9 core practices of emerging churches in the book Middendorf is referencing:.

1. Identifying with Jesus (and his way of life

2. Transforming secular space (overcoming the secular/sacred split)
3. Living as community (not strangers in proximity at a church service)
4. Welcoming the stranger (radical and gentle hospitality that is inclusive)
5. Serving with generosity (not serving the institution called "church," but people)
6. Participating as producers (not widgets in the church program)
7. Creating as created beings (this is a great chapter!)
8. Leading as a body (beyond control and the CEO model of leadership)
9. Merging ancient and contemporary spiritualities.


There will be no overcoming of the secular.  That is the false teaching of Dominionism.  “Inclusive” is a code word for ecumenism and interfaithism.  Christians are to serve the Church, which is people.  This is implying that most people are not doing that now.  Christians are not creating things, we are obeying the Lord and He is the One Who creates.  By ancient spirituality they are talking about the practices and sacraments of the RCC.


So, “How Not To Speak Of God” by Peter Rollins, it’s a very short book and don’t let that be the first book you read.  Read some other stuff before you get to that one. 


Maybe read your Bible alongside these tainted books and you will find out they are not holding to orthodoxy.


Ok.  And then also a speech given by a man by the name of Scott McKnight at the Contemporary Issues Conference at Westminster Theological Seminary this past October.  And also the sometimes painful experiences at OKC First with Kaleo Commnuity.  So take these for what they are: observations and descriptions and like I say we will have time at the end for some question and answer.  All right.  It’s that long disclaimer.  Are you ready to get started?  Here’s the first thing.  The emerging conversation questions the false division between the sacred and the secular.


So the world and the church are supposed to be in unity?


The division between the sacred and the secular.  About halfway through my youth ministry, and I youth pastured for 16 years, about halfway through I was totally willing to switch my title out “youth pastor” for “missionary to youth culture” because I recognized that youth culture was it’s own mission field, 


What would giving yourself another title have anything to do with working with youth?  Sounds a lot more important to be a missionary to a whole culture than to just your church youth group.


a mission field complete with it’s own customs, and traditions, and language systems, right? 


We have to be careful about elevating the traditions of men (Mr. 7:9)


And so I found myself willing to switch out my title because I didn’t want to just do youth ministry with the kids


Implying that is not something to aspire to.


that are already in the church.  I want to get out in the youth culture and make some sort of a dent.  And there are a lot of people who are in this conversation who are willing to use the terminology of missionary to the culture but what that does is that it also kind of demonstrates that there is a divide between where they are and where we are. 


Of course there is, they are unbelievers. 


You can hear it in our language.  I don’t know if you know this but some of the folks outside your church don’t like that you refer to them as lost.  In fact if you start there, if you start any kind of conversation with them “We would love for you to come to our church.  By the way you’re the lost and we have something that you need to find.” 


This is part of the Gospel message and it is the truth.  He is proposing that we lie to them in order to snare them into fellowship.


And you can even see it in the way that we have learned to go about youth ministry.  I’ve got another friend by the name of Chap Clark who says “Peer evangelism doesn’t work anymore because we’ve done such a “good job” at youth ministry.” 


Putting down the church again.  This is par for the course in the EC diaprax. 


We’ve done such a good job at youth ministry, saying to our students “be careful with those bad kids”. 


We ARE to tell our children to be careful who they befriend (2 John 1:10, Ps. 1:1, 2 Cor. 6:14).


 Get yourself away from those bad kids and there’s some wisdom in that, to be sure.  However, they become adults and they have no idea how to function in the secular world. 


When was this ever a problem, in fact Christians function much better in the world but not of it. 


Does that make sense?  Emerging theology attests that all spaces, all time, all of life is sacred, 


That is patently untrue.  (Ps. 51:5, 1 John 5:19, Rom. 3:23)


full of the life and the presence of God


This is pantheism. 


“Hyper presence” is a word that comes out of the “How not to speak of God” book by Peter Rollins. “Hyper presence” is the presence of God that overpowers our senses and leaves with words that are unable to really capture the essence of God in our midst. 


God never overpowers, Satan overpowers.  God works with our will, Satan against it.


 And given time and with the proper nurture and encouragement we as believers can learn to see and trace God and even worship in times and places we never thought possible before.


This is an idea he got from Emerging Church’s Allelon Alan Roxburgh: “In these biblical narratives God is constantly present in places where no one would logically expect God’s future to emerge and yet it does over and over.” (Missional Leader, A. Roxburgh, Pg 18, http://www.backyardmissionary.com/   God is not at work where He is not known (John 3:1, Gal. 4:8, 1 Cor. 1:21, Eph. 2:12) and not worshipped (Rom. 9:30). 


So rather than seeing a division between the sacred and the secular, we stand around and actually say that all of life is sacred.


Actually the world, the flesh and the devil are not sacred at all, they are sinful, lawless, damned without belief in Jesus Christ.


All of life is sacred.  In fact what we’ll say is there is no such place as a God-forsaken place. 


Some examples of the fallacy of his argument: What about hell, the Abyss, Sodom & Gomorrah, the pre Flood world, Nazi Germany, in fact the whole world before the return of Jesus Christ in tribulation under the AntiChrist?  Are these “sacred” and not “God-forsaken”? 


I got to tell you that’s different from some of what we have seen and even said.  But the earth does belong to God and everything in it.


True as Creator and true ultimately, but for now the devil has dominion (Col. 1:13, 1 John 5:19). 


This really is my Father’s world.  And so when did we start believing that some of it was good and some of it was bad? 


When God declared His judgment on the earth and the unbelievers (2 Pet. 3:7, Rev. 21:8).  We follow what God says not our own imaginations.


There is no time when God is absent. 


God is omnipresent, but God is not pantheistic.  God is not in and a part of the evil world.  He transcends it.


So what does this look like?  Well it looks like, a couple of things, it looks like “keeping sacred time”, it’s the first thing I would say, it looks like keeping sacred time.  In other words it means attention to the Christian calendar, which means that perhaps in the future we shouldn’t have this event over Ash Wednesday. (Applause) I’m gonna get grounded now, I can tell.  I don’t think he can throw this far so … it means that we pay attention to the lectionary which also is a resource which helps us read Scripture according to the Christian calendar.  Right?  It helps us to keep sacred time. 


Christian calendar events are not sacred time, they are times when we remember Bible events, etc.


 It means that worship can happen anywhere and everywhere and not just within the worship service. 


This is true but this does not make the secular sacred.   


I know there are several more resources to come out of this and there are a lot of people who are already asking the question “How can we start this, how can we start something like this at our church?” 


You mean worship on special calendar days?  As if they aren’t doing this already. What this is promoting is a lectionary that harkens back to RCC liturgy.  This is all part of the EC “ancient-future” church model.


Well, I got to tell you the very last thing you should do if you are interested in beginning something Emergent or reaching to your culture in the Emerging sort of way the very last thing you should do is do a worship service. 


You would not want to be an example of what the Church is supposed to be by worshipping the Lord in the confines of the body of Christ!


You should do it but you should do it last.  I don’t think we did it right.  Looking back we should have gone an entire year learning how to do life together. 


The Church is separate from the world, in the world but not of it.  Our worship is not understood by the unregenerate nor is it a show for them.  It can be an example to them in word and action, but it should not be a show put on to entertain. 


Practicing corporate spirituality that can actually happen around the dinner table, you know.  It can happen while you’re out there having fun.


 So it should not happen in the gathering of the saints?


The very last thing we should have done was do a worship service.  And so, in fact, this summer I’m suggesting that we actually do half as many services as we’ve been doing. 


Convenient for the leadership of the church.  Replaced by what?  In the old days church services were increased because of gathering for prayer and Bible teaching.  Now we want to dismiss those things and get out on the beach or at a restaurant and claim we are functioning as the body of Christ eating and drinking and laughing.  Here is one account from the past to keep in mind:


“Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C. H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, “Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?” They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn’t want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, “This is our heating plant.” Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon.” (Our Daily Bread, April 24) 


I think we’re gonna roll services back from once a week to once every other week and we’ll take the other two weeks and eat and laugh a lot. 


What good is that in the mission of the Church?  (1 Cor. 11:34, Ph. 3:18-20, Heb. 10:25) 


And I would suggest to you that you figure out ways to do your corporate life, if you want to start this, then figure out ways to do life together, whether it’s two people or ten people or a hundred people figure out ways to do life together and whatever it is that you’re doing together that builds that sense of corporate spirituality or corporate character, call that church and then do a service later on. 


Worship is truly not only doing church, and we should be Christians in everything we do.  But we cannot call everything we do church because church is the meeting together of the saints for the purpose of edifying and building up believers.  Everything we do should have this aspect, but then to try to sanctify the world and unbelievers by doing this is meaningless without the Gospel.  Look at the early church in Corinth.  They were fooling around and partying while they were having the Lord’s Supper. (1 Cor. 11:20-22)


Does that make sense?  Ok.  We look for evidence of the Divine and we look and find it in nature, in art, in literature, in music, in film. So rather than fear the surrounding culture and surrounding cities which predictably results in a bunker mentality the emerging congregation embraces the culture and expects to find God in it. 


Christians do not have the spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7) and we do not fear culture.  We don’t expect to find God in everything, especially culture.  This is why we have to spread the Gospel so that sinful people of cultures and cities may be saved.  This is also another diaprax against the churches. 


I don’t know if you’re a note taker but I want you to know if you are I want you to write that down.  The emerging congregation embraces the culture recognizing that it’s not all pretty.  But it embraces the culture and even them expects to find God in it because there’s nowhere God isn’t.


Not only is it not pretty, it is downright evil in many ways.  You don’t find God in culture.  You find Him by hearing the Gospel and in the new culture He brings through His Word.  If we are going to say we find God in culture why don’t we tell unbelievers to find Him there as well?


There may be places where the Church isn’t but I don’t think that means there are places where God isn’t. 


He is confusing the issue of God being omnipresent with the presence of God via the Gospel.  The Bible does not teach that God is present in cultures without the Church, in fact it is clear God it not to be found in cultures without the Gospel. 


I think we heard that last night from the speaker.  Ok, next one.  By the way this is some of Karl Zocks original photography and artwork.  Again one more hand for Karl Zocks … The emerging conversation questions any image of God any message from God any interpretation of Scripture any expression of Faith or any practice of the Church that doesn’t look like Jesus. 


If they were doing this they would know that many EC teachings do not “look like Jesus”. 


That doesn’t look like Jesus.  So what does, we’re going to go through these a point at a time, so in terms of image of God what does God look like?  God looks like Jesus.  God looks like Jesus.  We can’t assume we don’t know what God looks like until we encounter Jesus, and then that’s what God’s like.  Amidst the variety of labels and interpretations and iterations of God available to us, all are measured against the picture of God we see in the face of Jesus and emerging theologians limit and finish their search for the nature of God with the person of Christ. 


Their search for who God is should be from His written Word.  That is where you come to know the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  There are no “iterations” of God.  God is revealed in His Word, not in other sources such as culture or other religions.


With the person of Christ.  Colossians comes to mind.  “He is the image of the invisible God.”


This is true but you can’t know Jesus unless you come to know Him through the Word and by His Holy Spirit. 


Next one.  Jesus is the message of God.  What is the hope, the dream, them message of God? The answer again is Jesus.


God does not dream, God does not sleep therefore He does not dream.  If God goes to sleep we are all dead. 


And it’s not just that Jesus speaks of the Kingdom but Jesus is the embodiment, the tangible touchable Kingdom that is now and not yet. 


Jesus is not here physically, so He is not touchable.  The Kingdom is being established in the hearts of men.  The earthly Kingdom will be established when He comes.


The new Adam, the beginning of a new future, and this was the sermon that we heard the first night from Dr. Boone.  This is an eschatological statement.  The beginning of the end is seen in Christ.  The other scripture that comes to mind here is Luke chapter 4 when after reading a portion of scripture Christ rolls up the scrolls, sets it down and in great audacity says “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  He is the message.  Jesus as interpretive lens.  Jesus, according to participants in the emerging conversation is the lens through which scripture is read and interpreted.  Now this does not mean that the Old Testament is devalued or of no use to the contrary the Old Testament makes the case for the Messiah, the Gospel, the Kingdom of peace and as well offers so many pictures and images of God reminiscent of the God we see in Jesus.  Honesty requires, though, that we mention other passages that reveal a God that does not in fact look like Jesus and what do we do with those now? 


A God that does not look like Jesus?  How is that possible when Jesus is God?


 To be honest I’m still struggling with that.  And with in the emerging conversation we give one another permission to struggle, permission to struggle.  I don’t think tearing out those pages is the answer and yet it is interesting that throughout the fifth chapter of Matthew and other places in the Gospels Jesus uses this phrase “You have heard that it was said but I say”. 


Jesus is part of Who God is.  There is no division there.  Jesus was talking about what the Law really meant as opposed to what the Jews had misinterpreted it to be.


“You have heard that it was said but I say” indicating His awareness of His office. 


Jesus mission on earth had nothing to do with “His office”.  It had to do with obedience to the Father in dying for sin.


Indicating His awareness of His role as the ultimate interpretation and expression of God as opposed to other interpretations contained in earlier scriptures. 


God does not change.  Jesus is not in opposition to what the OT teaches about God, but rather the fulfillment of the plan of God all along.  This proves that those who teach these things are not familiar with the Spirit of truth or the Word of Truth, sad to say. 


You have heard that it was said but I say.  Next one.  Jesus is the ultimate measure of a life of Faith.


Jesus is the Object of faith as God.


So what does Faith look like?  Emerging theologians believe the life of Christ to be the model and the hope of the life of a follower of Christ and it is much than “what would Jesus do” it is “who is Jesus and recognizing Him to be God and the message of God.  It is who is Jesus, it is who am I and then I confess the difference. 


We are to be in Christ because if there is a difference when we are not in Christ.  If he is talking about confessing sin, that is good.  If he is talking about our works vs. His works, then this is an invitation to strive for salvation by works.


 Our own tradition lays claim to the hope that sanctification is more than just simply acting or looking like Jesus but that the very image of God can be revealed and restored in us.  In us.  Jesus says the ultimate measure of the life of the body of Christ, the Church. 


Jesus is not the Church.  Jesus is the head, the cornerstone, and the bridegroom.  The Church is made up of His children, the bride.


What should the Church be doing, where should we be?  What should we be saying and what kinds of things should be important to us?  The answers to the above questions and so many others regarding the Church is predictably Jesus.  The Church is to be doing what we see Jesus doing …


Being at the right hand of God making intercession?  I think he is talking about things in the world that look good therefore we can call them sacred.  At least that is what other EC people are saying.


… saying what we hear Jesus saying. The church should be making its way to all the places we see Christ. The Church’s agenda is Christ’s agenda. 


Jesus is only working in places where the Church has gone (Rom. 10:14-15).  Without the Gospel God is not there in any sense other than He is omnipresent and omniscient.  God is not at work in pagan, heathen cultures without Christians going there to carry out the Great Commission.  What Jesus is “speaking” to the Churches is what He spoke while He was here on earth.  Preach the Gospel and disciple all believers in every nation (Mark 16:15, Mt. 28:19). 


Nothing less and nothing more.  Emerging theologiana and leaders seek to recover the label of the earliest church who before being labeled as Christians were known to be people of the Way of Christ. 


There is no difference, in fact “Christian” means follower of Christ ((christian. (n.d.). The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved May 10, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary1.classic.reference.com/browse/christian.) or follower of the Way (taken from John 14:6 where Christ said that He was the Way, Truth and Life).


And not too long ago I heard someone ask “Then give me a conscise definition of or at least a description of the Emerging Church and the Emerging Church is simply a body of believers who are seeking to live the way of Christ in a postmodern era.


There is should be no difference living for Christ in ANY era.  The same principles and law of Christ, which it love, apply.


In a sense the body of believers seeking and perhaps even stumbling and struggling but seeking to live the way of Christ in a postmodern era.


If they were seeking to live the way of Christ they would be obeying the Word of God and not going beyond what is written.  If you remain in Christ you will not stumble (Pr. 3:21-23, 1 Pet. 2:8).


Most and not all have, to be fair and honest there, most but not all Emerging congregations are intentional about their involvement in issue of justice and compassion


Now we get to the crux, that our work as a Church should be political and social because Jesus is already working in the culture so we are just following His lead to save the planet.


following the lead of the likes of John Howard Yoder, and again if you haven’t read “Politics of Jesus” you really need to. 


Jesus was not political. He came to die for our sins and to live a perfect life.  He did not try to change the political landscape (“render unto Caesar”).  When He comes a second time He comes to judge the earth and rule with an iron rod.  He will them come as the “political” King of Kings and Lord of Lords.


These efforts while they will necessarily have something to do with politics are not intended to be politically correct. 


Then why are EC leaders saying homosexuality is ok, for instance, when the Bible says it is a sin?  Could it be that they are already afraid of hate crime legislation?


Just as issues are taken up as a cause they are believed to be the agenda of Jesus. 


Do these people really think they can save a planet that is destined for judgment and many people who call themselves Christians who are destined for a falling away or have already fallen away?   If so they go against what the Bible tells us is happening in these end times.


Let me just give you a few examples of kind of what we are talking about here. 


TRACK 3: Sometimes it’s discussion and debate even


But no debate or real opposition allowed in this session.


and sometimes it is just education.  But always, every time we have one of these discussions we always serve the Eucharist right afterwards.


The Eucharist is a paganization of the Lord’s Supper in the RCC where every time the service is held Christ is crucified all over again through transubstantiation.  Is Middendorf instituting that practice in the Nazarene churches?


So that regardless where we come out on any of these discussions, regardless of where you come out or where I come out on any of these issues you and I can walk down the same hallway together and share the Eucharist and maintain unity.


There can be no unity with false teachers or false religion, such as the heretical RCC through a sharing of the Eucharist.  The Bible calls us to unity in the Spirit and unity in the Faith, but not unity with false teaching and heresy.


 Make sense?




We have to talk about these things but we have to talk about these things understanding against a backdrop that I’m not gonna leave you despite your wrong opinion.  (Rom. 16:17, Tit. 3:10) I’m talking about this but you’re not going to leave me despite my talking about this.


I think it is time to do that.


Right? Not only that my friend Lance, our minister of justice, right, love you, our minister of justice and Divine wrath, just kidding … has gotten us into several different relationships with folks in other traditions.  The one that sticks out in my mind the most though is the relationship we have with the St. Charles Boromeo Catholic Church.  We partner with them in distributing food.  And at least once a month if not more often we are partnering with these folks having this ecumenical conversation.


There can be no partnership of God’s people with those preaching another Gospel of works!


Again, and you need to understand this, there are lots of different reasons to feed people but here’s what I am sensing and what is refreshing to me.  Sometimes we have few people because we’re afraid of what will happen if we don’t. 


Speak for yourself!


In other words we are afraid of God if we don’t.


Fear of God is a good thing if it causes you to obey Him, such as in feeding those who need help.  But how much more do the churches need to fear God in not following after false teachers, whose mouths are open graves and their tongues like vipers. (Rom. 3:10-18). 


At other times people fed people because it was a way to kind of flesh out your Christian resume.


This is mocking Christians and judging their motives. 


But now I think we’re finally feeding people because they’re hungry. 


Welcome to the reason missions and organizations have been doing that all along!  If this is some new Emergent theology they are VERY late to the party. 


And that’s when I think you heard Tim say this in the last session, that’s when you start to learn names. 


When the rest of the churches feed the hungry they don’t interact with them?  Where was this guy when hundreds of missions around the world were feeding the poor, partly in order to develop a relationship with them to share the Gospel?


So then we start to learn names, that when it starts to take you a day with Lance and Ashley filling out those last food requests, you might even go in an sit down and talk.  And so we’re doing those kinds of things but again it’s for no other reason in that we understand justice to be Christ’s agenda.


We feed the poor because we are showing the love of Christ not because it is Christ’s agenda.  Christ’s agenda in this time is to bring the Gospel to as many as possible before His return and to disciple them through the Word by the Holy Spirit.  That must always be of highest importance.


 In addition we have fashioned kind of a fun relationship with Missionary Baptist Church … in a rougher part of town.  That’s how it’s called most often.  And the relationship is such that our ministry staffs get together every so often and just share a meal and they have come over to do a worship service with us and we’ve gone over to do a worship service with them and the relationship’s going just well enough that our church will be represented in the upcoming Martin Luther King day parade. 


So the reward for this un-new idea of orthodox Christian churches (not the RCC) getting together occasionally is not a spiritual benefit but that they get to be represented in a parade?


We’ll have a float.  Looking forward to it.  The very next nights we are going over to their place again for a Sunday evening service and our pastor Dr. Green gets to speak and I get to sing and that’s some kind of crowd to sing to there I guarantee you it’s a good crowd.


Gee, I wonder if the Missionary Baptist Church is teaching EC?  What a wonderful opportunity to reinforce EC teachings from another source while claiming it is for the sake of unity.  This is an example of indoctrination by isolation.


Something interesting the last time we were there for a service.  They served us Communion.  Now at first glance that might not mean that much to you but it was a violation of their tradition to serve us Communion.  We were not members of their church, we were not going to be members of their church, and we were from way outside their community.  And yet their pastor, who is now been there 45 years Dr. John Reed, this guy’s been there so long they’ve named the choir after him, I think he named the choir after him … the John Reid Inspirational Singers and their good now and inspirational too, but Dr. Reid a son of that church and a son of that tradition said something really big is going on here and they served us Communion.


The Lord’s Supper is to be open to all believers, not just of a local church, so apparently the MBC has been disobeying the Lord for decades. 


When they came to our church, when they came to our church, also in their tradition women are not allowed to serve Communion, but when they came to our church we had young and old and men and women serving them Communion and it was fascinating to watch that their women went to the women who were serving Communion. 


Talk about much ado about nothing.  There is nowhere in the NT where Communion is restricted to be served by only men. 


And it has started a conversation within their tradition now.


Communion is not to be a discussion or conversation.  We are called to go to the Word and obey it.  We don’t need the EC, which has amply demonstrated that it knows and cares little about what the Bible teaches, to set churches right on how to distribute the Lord’s Supper.


That can only be good. 


By their own standards, why is the way the Nazarenes are serving Communion “good” and the way the MBC “bad”?  Isn’t this the very judgmental attitude about traditions that Middendorf has already condemned?  If the Nazarenes are serving the Eucharist after the tradition of the RCC, are they not in graver error than MBC? 


But it’s not just big things, it’s small and still really good things. My friend Lance has now had Chess Night not too long ago, how did that go? …but also potlucks for the promotion of, there you go.  And who was invited? … And again we didn’t bring anybody to the church and feed them and defeat them in chess or were we defeated by them? in chess so as to try to convert them but to celebrate the fact that God is everywhere. 


Two churches and others celebrating their error.  Whatever happened to prayer meetings, Bible studies, etc.?


To celebrate the fact that God is everywhere. Ok.  So this is that point at which I want you to realize that the emerging conversation has as much to do with ecclesiology as it does anything else. 


Seems to me this lecture on “theology” has nothing to do with theology but everything to do with the church (ecclesiology, though faulty ecclesiology.  This lecture should have been “Emerging Statement Of Purpose”.


It is not just a critique of the way that we believe, in fact it is not at its core a critique of the way we believe, it’s a critique of how we believe


Isn’t that the same thing?


 and how we go about doing and being the Church.  And that’s where we start to get into the next couple of things here.  Emerging theologians believe Christian character is formed, most reliably, when God is described as opposed to when faith or in the life of faith in the life is prescribed.


 If you are not studying or teaching the Bible how will you know how God is described?


We’ll let that one sink in for just a minute.  Emerging theologians believe Christian character is formed, most reliably, when God is described as opposed to when the life of faith is prescribed.  In other words, I’m not sure that you ever build anyone toward Christ’s likeness by telling them what not to do. 


Jesus and the Apostles told Christians what to do AND what not to do all the time.  They balanced encouragement with warnings.  If these EC leaders cannot do that they are not emulating Christ.


 It’s not that it’s never a part of the conversation because as a parent I know that it is but the most Christian and spiritual formation that we do with out people we do when we describe God 


To describe God is to also describe what attributes we must emulate and what God expects us to do and to believe.


not when we prescribe faith.  To be blunt, the Emerging Conversation believes that beliefs, in and of themselves, can never even hope to completely contain God. 


The point of belief it not to “contain” God.  But to imply that beliefs are not what counts is backwards.  You are what you believe.


 I need to ask you right now, do you really think that words can completely contain God.


This is a Strawman/diaprax question. God’s Word is eternal; therefore it “contains” God if you will because it comes from Him and is a part of His eternal plan.  The written Word is truth (John 17:17).  It is completely sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.  This is a denigration of the Word of God, in my opinion.  As I understand it Middendorf does not believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures, nor the ultimate authority of them for the believer.  That is why we always have to have a “conversation” about them so they can always be in a state of postmodern flux.


The moment that we believe that words can completely contain God, there’s trouble near.  Words are our best descriptions of what we believe to be true but we must maintain the capacity to admit that words are insufficient, incomplete, and unable to capture the entire essence of God. 


Who said we have to describe God completely?  No man knows everything about God.  God has given us everything we need for life and faith in His written Word but there is much yet to know about Him.  But God has revealed to us everything we need to know about Him and His will in His written Word.  This statement is implying that we should just give up trying to teach people about God and just let them find out about Him by themselves.  It is implying that “truth” is always in a state of flux and no one can articulate it.  HINT: What this is really about is setting people up to agree that there are descriptions of God other than what is in the Bible in other cultures and religions.


When we lose the ability to admit that we quickly begin to idolize and absolutize our words about God. 


So there is no absolute truth and we cannot speak truth or else we will be idolizing our words?  This is a diaprax against those who stand on the Word of God (2 Thes. 2:15).


We use them then as leverage and as tools to shape and perhaps even weapons to carve and manipulate and control persons, and I’m not sure that works. 


Is he not doing exactly what he is warning about?  Is he not using words?  He was given opportunity to define Emerging theology in this lecture using words.  Could it be because he has no idea how to describe what he now believes and has nothing really constructive to add to the Church? 


Here’s what I am sure of.  I’m sure of the fact that there now exist several different groups that we’re now trying to minister to.  For sure the unchurched, for sure the underchurched, and now the antichurch. 


The unchurched, in his “words” would be the same as the antichurched.  They want nothing to do with church.  I am assuming he and his EC friends would now be underchurched because he wants to cut down on the number of church services in his church J. 


Because there is in Oklahoma City right there in the buckle of the Bible belt there is an increasing congregation I’m gonna call them, there is an increasing congregation of people who love Jesus and the idea of Jesus and hate the church. 


Those who do not love God’s people hate Jesus.  It is His Church.  When a person is truly born again they will realize they are a sinner saved by grace like the rest of believers and stop having a hypocritical attitude toward His Church.


So what does a church look like that seeks to minister to folks who love Jesus but don’t like the Church? 


A true church would teach them what the Church is.


 At that point when words are weapons, there is no dialog it is only monologue. 


Just because a person proclaims the truth of the Gospel and about the Church does not mean they do not dialog.  We are to demolish arguments, which means that we are having a dialog in which opposing views are presented and in which we take a firm position on the Truth. (2 Cor. 10: 4-5)  Only those who will not entertain serious debate on the issues of the EC are doing a “monologue” like Middendorf.


And when the Church loses at any point the capacity for conversation and dialog it loses one of its more potent resources for spiritual formation and the formation of Christian community. 


How can you create spiritual formation in unbelievers?  Only God can do that and the only way is for them to recognize the ugly truth that they are sinners and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our mission is not to make friends and have a “conversation”.  Our mission is to tell the truth.  If they will not listen we ultimately are commanded to walk away. (Matt. 10:14, Acts 13:51)


 We ought to be talking to one another the entire time.  I was in a children’s ministry seminar this morning with Ivy Beckwith, another one of the pioneers of this movement.  And Ivy seems to think one of the best things you can do to help form Christ in children is actually talk to them and then give them time to talk back.


The Nazarenes don’t allow their Sunday school children to ask questions? 


How about that?  Talk to kids and then give them the time to talk back.  I’ve kinda known that with youth ministry for a little while.  And I think there is an increased awareness of it even in the adult ministry as well that there’s something about dialog and conversation that not only validates the God that’s in me but validates the God that’s between us. 


Is God is now a parking ticket Who needs to be validated?  God validates Himself in His Word.  He is a witness within Himself as the Triune God (1 Jonh 5:7).  He wants us to defend the Faith against those who do not believe. (Acts 22:1) 


Ok, here’s the next one. 


If these are the articles of the EC faith then they are lacking in virtually every way concerning the true Christian faith. 


Emerging theologians prioritize orthapraxis over orthodoxy. 


That is very evident in this diatribe.  But orthodoxy must take precedence over orthopraxy if the orthopraxy is to be on track … doctrine before practice. (Tit. 1:9)


Orthopraxix over orthodoxy.  Now this is super frightening to folks and I understand. We’re gonna talk about the fear thing here in a second.  This does not mean to say that emergent folks don’t have orthodoxy (which they do not) cause they do, in fact, in fact if you have been listening already you’ve heard today that there is an incredibly high Christology. 


So high that the Father and Holy Spirit are not really in the picture, apparently.  But I would argue that their Christology is not high if they refuse to obey His Word. Christ being the living embodiment of the Word.


Right?  So there is orthodoxy. 


Orthodoxy is more than Christology alone; it is also Theology (what we believe about God), Bibliology, Soteriology, Eschatology, etc.  Here is part of the most important elements of orthodoxy. 


The Trinity: God is one "What" and three "Whos" with each "Who" possessing all the attributes of Deity and personality.  Or alternately … the one God eternally exists in three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Person of Jesus Christ: Jesus is 100% God and 100% man for all eternity.

The Second Coming: Jesus Christ is coming again bodily to earth to rule and judge.

Salvation: It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

The Scripture: It is entirely inerrant and sufficient for all Christian life, and is a Christian’s highest authority in all matters of faith and practice.


There are other Biblical teachings that must not be compromised, but the five above are paramount.  Please refer to my article called “The Emerging Church – Introducing Heresies”.


But what the Emergent church is saying is there is something important about living right even if you can’t articulate it correctly.


The reason EC people cannot articulate what they believe is that they do no know their Bibles. (2 Tim. 2:15)  If they don’t know their Bibles and they are believing false teachings, how will that come out in right living?


Living right, living the way of Christ counts even if you can’t and haven’t just yet said the right words. 


Words and actions are both important, but actions without words mean very little, and actions without right orthodoxy end up in wrong orthopraxy.


A higher value on orthopraxis than on orthodoxy, living as Christ over the ability to articulate dogma. 


If you cannot articulate what you believe, perhaps what you believe is not influencing the way you live?


Not surprisingly then the Emerging conversation is placing more emphasis on a holistic, contextual, communal faith and less emphasis on an interior, personalized, privatized faith, what Rodney Clapp in “Peculiar People” would call an “atomized faith”. 


You cannot be saved collectively, only personally.  The words “holistic” and “communal” are common phrases of the New Age movement.  The words “interior, personalized, privatized and atomized” are a slap at Christians who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 


Let me show you what I mean.  This, believe it or now, is a one million dollar bill.  Ok?  Well, at least it says it’s a one million dollar bill.  This was actually left as a tip by a Christian on a Sunday.  The one million dollar bill, and by the way there was not other money left, it was just this, has this around the edges “Have you ever lied, stolen, lusted, God sees your thoughts, you know, are you innocent, guilty, heaven, hell Or what shall it profit if a man gains the whole world and yet loses his soul.  This is non-negotiable.  It’s sole purpose is to promote that God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us and that God commands all men everywhere to repent and trust in Jesus Christ www.livingwaters.com Click on “Save Yourself Some Pain”.  And so a waitress, who perhaps has a kid maybe two and maybe by herself trying to raise those two kids and gets a waitressing job because of the money she can bring home and cash right away and a Christian leaves her a million dollar bill?  A million dollar tract?  This is why the Emerging church is placing a higher priority on communal, exterior, contextualized faith as opposed to an interior, personalized, privatized faith.


Bad example.  If this isolated and non-typical story is the reason for their emphasis on orthopraxy, then there is no need for their ethos.  I don’t know ANY Christian who would leave a tract instead of a tip.


The interior, personalized, privatized faith seems to be really uptight about the soul. 


Not uptight, concerned.  Only those who are practicing false doctrines think of those who are as being “uptight”.


I want to be concerned with the whole body.  If you go to lunch on a Sunday after church, tip well, especially if you’re wearing one of those Christian t-shirts or a label of some kind.  If you’re rolling up in the church van don’t stiff the waitress. 


Has Jon ever tipped anyone for less than 15%?  If so he is a hypocrite.


Don’t stiff the waiter.  Please tip well.  I think it reflects poorly on your Christianity if you don’t tip well. Just do. … Like my friend David Volker does please tip at least 10%. 


It’s at least 15% in most states.


… Let me say this.  This communal aspect of faith means that we prioritize peace and we prioritize suffering love.  This means that we are gonna place a higher priority on staying together than on those things that would cause us to be separate and apart. 


But what if Christ tells us to separate ourselves from false brethren, false teachers, false prophets, adulterers, etc.?  Are we then following the example of Jesus, or simply practicing some postmodern politically correct tolerance and unity for unity’s sake?


What this means is if someone flying the Emerging/Emergent flag is doing so and at the same time burning down the traditional church I don’t think that he or she is capturing the heartbeat and the essence of the Emerging congregation 


Then Middendorf does not understand this new EC ethic he is espousing because he has spent a good part of this session subtly and not so subtly “burning down the traditional church” himself.


whose desire is for peace.


Was it a desire for peace when leaders in the Nazarene denomination promoting EC threaten those who are producing materials that are against their false teachings?  Apparently those people are not included in their search for peace.


In fact that desire for peace as evidenced by the message and hope of Christ … at our place we talk a lot about lions and lambs.  We talk a lot about the peaceable kingdom. 


The prophecy of the lion laying down with the lamb is talking about the physical one thousand year millennial Kingdom of Christ after His second coming, not the spiritual Kingdom being established in the hearts of believer.


And this has been a difficult passage for us because we do have a traditional congregation and we do have a kaleo congregation.  We do.  See have a couple of different congregations under one roof.  If I have my way we’ll have several different congregations under one roof so that we can constantly put to the test this commitment for peace and staying together as a family.  In fact I’m the one guy just getting into this Emerging conversation and I’ve talked a little bit with Tim and a little bit with Tim Condor and what I’m hearing from a lot of people is and even folks inside of our congregation is “boy this can’t work, this can’t work”.  This can’t work.  You can’t have this emerging congregation long term within a traditional church and my response to that is “It has to work”.  If it doesn’t work, yeah, we have to keep messin with it, fumbling with it until we figure out a way for it to work. 


It doesn’t even apparently cross his mind that perhaps the reason it does not work is that it is not what the Lord wants. 


Or else we violate one of the core beliefs of the Emerging Conversation which is a suffering love. 


So if the traditional church does not go along with the EC then it is violating one of the EC tenets.  Has it occurred to him that maybe they do not agree with the EC ideas in the first place and they therefore have no mandate to do what the EC wants them to do?


We got to win the peace. 


Jesus did make us peacemakers with the world (James 3:18) but we are to accomplish that by reconciling people to Christ through the proclamation of the Gospel so He can save them, not by removing the Gospel so people will be our friends.  The outcome of standing up for the truth, however, is that those in the world will hate us (John 15:18) and we will cause division with the world, the flesh and the devil (Luke 12:51), and even among families (Mark 13:12) 


Right?  And so in response to a question I got in the first seminar I did, the first seminar, the first question of the day “Well what about that person who has written or said some of those things that are incredibly inflammatory, incredibly personal? That is not any part, I don’t want any part of a situation or a theology or a congregation that does life like that.”  The problem is since we are committed to this Emerging congregation this emerging conversation we’ve got to draw the circle wide enough to keep that guy in. 


This makes this guy look like he is out of it while the EC people are in the circle.  What if the lone guy is the only one who is in God’s circle and the EC leadership are the ones that need to repent and return to orthodoxy?  What if that guy is telling the truth and gets ostracized or demonized because he stands on the Word of God?  How is the EC going to draw a circle big enough to draw that guy in?  And why would he want to be drawn in?  Is it mandatory? 


And we will. 


No they won’t and no they haven’t.


 Now is this scary?  Well you bet it’s scary.  It’s all kinds of scary.


About to get VERY scary as more information becomes available on the false New Age teachings of the EC coming into the church.  Then we will see the reaction of these self-proclaimed “tolerant” people.  It should be scary to them since EC is teaching a number of heretical things.


But there’s different kinds of fear, right?  This shouldn’t be scary like the scary when someone’s breaking into the house you’re in.  Right, that’s scary.  I’ve actually walked in when someone had already broken into our house before.  Right?  And there’s that’s a particular kind of scary.  It’s not that kind of scary.  No one’s looking to break into your house and steal all of your good communion dishes.  Promise.  But it is the kind of scary like handing the keys over to your 16 year old who just now got his or her driver’s license.  It is that kind of scary.  It’s gonna change your life.  And that young man or that young woman is gonna redefine transportation in your home.  That’s scary.  It is kind of like that.  Or it’s like the scary that you get, it’s the fear that you get when you’re at the top of a double black diamond slope and you’re a blue skier.  But there’s only one way down.  And so you take what skills you’ve got and you navigate it as best you can and you fall and sometimes it hurts but you still got to ski, you still got to get down.  So you strap them back and you keep skiing, keep running into things, and it hurts again, and sometimes again and again, but you make it because the Kingdom prevails.


What if God does not want you to take the slippery slope of the EC ski run and instead follow Him? 


The Kingdom prevails and I know it’s true because Christ taught me to pray it.  The Kingdom come, your will be done, say it with me, on earth as it is in heaven. 


This prayer is talking about the physical Kingdom reign of Jesus Christ after his Second Coming, not some kind of “Kingdom Now” being set up on the earth by the Church.


Yeah.  So we can do this.


It is not we who set up the coming Kingdom.  It is we who pray for God’s will to be done and then carry out the Great Commission.  And let’s not forget that it is we who also should pray “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”.  We also pray “protect us from the evil one.” 


And we’re willing to kind of be the guinea pigs if we need to.  Now I know we’re not that only ones.  I’ve talked with some of you.  But we are willing to give this a shot and we are few months away from our second birthday with no end in sight reaching folks I don’t think we would ever have reached otherwise. 


Reaching them with the teachings of the EC or with the Gospel?


Do you have any questions? 


Brian: (inaudible long question)


Jon: The question was forty minutes long I don’t know if I can restate it.  Essentially responding to Peter Rollin’s assertion that God is not contained actually in our words about Him.  … It seems to me that the same thing we celebrate every weekend, the Eucharist, the God who is there and yet transcendent we celebrate that and practice that and live into that and rehearse that, I think that’s the best place were we intersect with that, the wholeness movement.  The wholeness movement in it’s roots understood that liturgy wasn’t just for liturgy’s sake nor was it simply for the life of the individual believer but it was to shape that individual believer for lives of service and for lives of mission and sacrifice that would then describe in those very actions, describe God for the rest of the world.  So I think it fits nicely within the holiness movement and it actually takes us back to liturgy. 


It would take the Nazarenes back to a liturgical practice of the RCC that is not a proper witness to the world at all and not a proper celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  In the RCC Eucharist Christ is transubstantiated to die again and again each time the Eucharist is performed.  It is a paganization of the true Lord’s Supper. 


It takes us back to the sacraments. 


Why would true believers want to go back to the sacraments of Rome?  Does the true Christian church now want to go back to the heresy of Rome of salvation through the sacraments?


It takes us back to the Eucharist. 


The Eucharist was instituted in the council of Trent where they stated: the Eucharist is "truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Trent, 13th Session, Canon 1)  This is not what the Lord’s Supper was meant to be at all.  It is a paganized version meant to be a magical potion for getting close to God or our doing good works in order to gain salvation.


The lion and lamb thing, what I meant to say and I didn’t say earlier was we trot out that image of the lion and lamb quite a bit but I don’t think we have realized until the last couple of years how much angst goes into finally getting that lion and lamb to lie down together. 


There is angst because that is not our job.  Christ will do what as a result of His Second Coming.  We are not to lie down with those who teach false teachings, nor are we to lay down with the world and its sinful cultures and false religions.


Because they just, by their nature they instinctively want to, one wants to eat the other and the other one just wants to run.  And it takes a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of hard work and intentional hard work to get us to the place where we are comfortable. 


So what is the lion and what is the lamb in Middendorf’s scenario?  Apparently the lion is people who do not want to accept the EC and want to attack them.


And a lot of days you want to lay down and you’re not comfortable before we actually get to that place where peace can actually prevail. 


Questioner:  (Inaudible)


Jon: Part of the reason why we were permissioned to do that was that I remember the meetings there was a stark realization around the room, our leadership team recognized that so many of them their kids and their grandkids weren’t in our church and could be. 


This is a very bad reflection on the leadership of Middendorf’s church.  A Christian leader or overseer should see that his children obey him (1 Tim. 3:4), which would include being instructed in the things of the Lord in the body of Christ. 


And so there was at that point the realization that something had to change.  And I think that’s the point at which we got the emotional permission to try something different. 


So they make a bad problem worse by bringing in the EC. 


But I need to tell you too, to be completely honest, some of this was birthed because of the preaching and the sermons of Steve Green that started 8 years ago when he started to just drill into our heads this image of the lion and the lamb and describe, in all of His glory, what Christ looks like. 


Apparently the lion and the lamb philosophy is basically teaching that you have to be at peace with everything, including the cultures and other religions, which would include not making exclusive truth claims.  How this helps the absent kids of the leaders of the church I cannot see.


And so there was this created appetite after about six years or so and that combined with the realization that we were slowly but surely, surely even in a college town losing generations of young people.  I think that’s where we got the permission to try and do something different. 


By using the word “permission” Middendorf is subtly trying to persuade people that bringing EC ideas was a decision made by the Nazarene leadership.  Perhaps it was.


Questioner: (Inaudible)


Jon: I think if you’re going to do it within the system at some point it has to be in the heart of the leadership but I don’t know that it has to begin there.  I think it can begin in the heartbeat of the folks who recognize that there is a problem even if the leadership doesn’t recognize it yet. 


There is still no explanation on how the EC doctrines will help the youth.


And that’s why I was intentional to say earlier lets figure out ways to do life together.


What he really means by this is that he wants all the Nazarene churches to follow the EC programs.


If for some reason your community is not ready to make wholesale changes or create this kind of space, they don’t necessarily need to up front.  If it’s two or three or ten of you learning to live life together


As if Christians don’t already live life together.


and there is a corporate spirituality and you are being shaped by Christ within that two or three or ten, call that the Church. 


The implication being that the rest are not being shaped by Christ.


 Call that the Church, call that the congregation within a congregation but remain committed to the possibility of peace and remain committed to conversation, especially with folks who don’t agree with you just yet, right? 


This is hypocrisy, given the response to dissenters by Middendorf in this very session.


Because I’m convinced that there can be some seasoning both ways and a place to meet. 


What if there are those who do not want the seasoning, the leaven, of the EC at all?  What if there is no place to “meet” on many of these issues from a Biblical perspective?


It just has to work eventually.  We got to figure this out.  And I don’t know that there will ever be a blueprint blueprint but we have to keep working with it until it works. 


Questioner: (inaudible)


Jon:  Here’s how I did it with students.  How can we rediscover, how can we help our folks to rediscover the God in all of life.  One of the most practical ways we did it and we did it in youth ministry is we handed out digital cameras.  And on a Saturday we actually got high school students to show up on a Saturday morning about 10 o’clock we bribed them, I’m not sure what it was, something, we got them there, we got them into two teams and we said ok I’m gonna give you two hours and go out there and take pictures of the evidence of God in the world.  Go. 


If you want to have kids discover God in all of life, the most important way is to get them reading and listening to what the Bible says about God and then use that information to inform them about the world.  It is good to have a sense of God in nature and in Christians but you can be fooled into thinking that just because a thing is “good” or looks “good” it is of God and just because sinful people have the love of money that makes money bad, etc.


And they came back and they gave us the disks or the memory sticks or what not and somebody who knows more about technology than I do loaded them immediately into a PowerPoint program and we fed them and said after that, ok, you got two hours go out there and find evidence of brokenness in the world.  We actually did it the other way around we said brokenness first and then evidence of God in the world.  I would like to call that a lesson in discernment that over a period of time tunes their eyes to being able to see what they couldn’t see before. 


How about discernment for all the false teachings of the EC?  Perhaps the teacher needs to learn some lessons first.


And what they saw was fascinating.  I’ll never forget one of the pictures of evil or brokenness in the world was a picture of a giant skyscraper bank downtown, beautiful building, I don’t know that I would have that day immediately seen that as and evidence of brokenness in culture and society but this high school kid looks and me and says “when our monuments to money look better than the monuments we build to God, something’s broken”. 


We are not called to build monuments to God, and those who run banks may or may not be evil.  A building is not evil or “broken” in and of itself.  It depends on how it is being used and the attitudes toward those with the money.  This was an opportunity lost to teach this lesson to the kids.


And to this day she continues to be able to trace not only brokenness but the Divine activity of God in the world when other’s can’t. 


Can she recognize that, first and foremost, the “Divine activity of God in the world” is the Church?  Apparently not if she was one of the kids who was not coming to church. 


How’s that?


Questioner: (Inaudible)


Jon:  Again, the priority is peace, the priority is peace.  And so you do what you can do while maintaining every effort to keep the unity of the bond of peace. 


It is always interesting how false prophets prophesy “Peace, peace” and false teachers never see that what they are doing is creating division in the body of Christ, not unity.  EC is creating division.


… At our place we can do a lot but I don’t pretend to be able to speak as an authority about your local situation.  There is somebody in the room who can maybe go back and pull off the digital camera thing and that may be it.  There is somebody else in the room who can go ahead and meet together with two or three or four at the local coffee shop or Starbucks or something like that, they can get away with that for awhile but that may be it.  So I want to permission them to do a little, but I also want to challenge us to do a lot.


Questioner: (Inaudible)


Jon:  I actually think that the culture has a great appetite for the church to be the church outside the walls of the church. 


Questioner: (Inaudible)


Jon:  Here are the questions we ask relative to salvation:  What is it that a person is being saved from?  And then what is it that a person is being saved to?  And we also recognize that we are continually being saved.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t start somewhere cause I think it probably does, but I am reticent to try to again prescribe what that has to look like for every person. 


The Bible prescribes what the Gospel is.  That Middendorf cannot define the Gospel shows just how far from it he and the EC leadership have wandered.  When you cannot give the facts of the Gospel because it would be politically incorrect or might offend someone, then you are not going to be involved in the spread of it.  He also forgets the most important question: Who are we saved by?


Because they are coming from such different and diverse backgrounds and different language systems.  I want to say first of all in keeping with some of my favorite stories in the Old Testament in particular the Abraham narratives my considering myself to be saved has a whole lot more to do with God that with me in the first place. 


Glad he at least recognizes that point. 


And so we celebrate the salvific nature of God on a regular basis.  So if you’re asking me, do we count the number of conversions, we don’t but we do tell and retell and retell the stories of life change and the ongoingness of conversion. 


This is admittedly an aside:  It is interesting to me that one of the first barbs false teachers throw at discernment ministries is “How many people have you saved?”  So now we find out that they don’t ask that of themselves only other people they don’t like. 


Questioner: (Inaudible)


(Other youth  testimony)


Questioner: I work with children and I feel very you know passionate of all things that we’re reading and learning, the things you said today.  And one thing that I really struggle especially that more than half of our kids are really not getting much influence of Christ at home even if their parents are coming to church, you know it’s only on Sundays and Wednesdays when they are with us.  How we don’t tell them, like how you were saying, you know stay away from those bad kids and that kind of thing like how do we show them God in the world yet keep them protected somewhat from the influences because they are so influenced. Does that make sense? 


Why are they not telling them to stay away from bad kids?  (Pr. 18:24, 1 Cor. 5:9 & 11)  The Bible tells us not to be friends with those committing sins.  We can witness to them but to hang around them is to be in the world and of the world (John 17:16) 


Jon:  I think we have to be wise about that and I still think we have to protect them but we have made the decision early on in this process of kaleo to incorporate children into everything that we do so the kids are in the room, the kids are singing songs with us, the kids are going to hear a kids sermon actually every week relative to the Scripture that is given to us by the lectionary and then there are activities based on those same scriptures for them to kind of work on, age specific sorts of things.  When we do any kind of a feeding thing we love to bring the kids with us.  And even if they’re not very good at handling giant bags of rice and flour, they’re around 


Actually in our church the ministry of feeding the homeless is more like 85% youth, 15% adults and somehow we came to that without EC ideas to inspire us.  Is it perhaps that we were doing what the Bible said already?


and they see it and at some point it takes root in their memories, and so my answer to that is you just keep them around. 


Perhaps the problems in Middendorf’s church were from that fact that the kids were excluded from normal church activities.  When I grew up we did not have a children’s message, we listened to the “adult” message.  We were involved in almost all the activities of the church with the exception of Sunday school, which was more age specific.  If kids are marginalized in the churches it is no wonder they do not feel of part of them or learn what it means to be a Christian by emulating and learning from the example of their elders in the Faith. 


And so what you don’t do you don’t separate them out immediately and then leave them separated out but you incorporate them into the very function and life of this community at every level. 


Why does it take Middendorf, who is teaching a lot of false teaching here, to remind the churches to do what they should already have been doing?  They should know this from Scripture already (De. 11:19).  We don’t need the rebukes from a movement filled with heresies and false teaching.  The Bible is enough to rebuke us and to encourage us and to show us how to live in Christ.  Rebukes from false teachers are always a diaprax to vilify the old in order to bring in the new.